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Is Sumitomo guilty of contempt of our High Court?

THIS is the question on the lips of those familiar with the suspicious situation of email accounts created under false names, false and incorrect statements sent to our national newspapers (including this one).

Editors of our local newspapers were being asked to publish false information about Axiom KB last year though a High Court injunction was in force that specifically prohibited Sumitomo from “interfering with the lawful business interests of Axiom KB”.

This injunction was issued by the High Court and stamped with the penal notice which means any breach of it may be treated as a criminal offence.

An application by Axiom KB is currently before the High Court alleging contempt of court by Sumitomo’s mining company – SMM Solomon Ltd (Sumitomo) as investigators traced the origin of the articles back to computers owned by SMM Solomon Ltd – the joint venture between the Japanese Government and Sumitomo Metal Mining Company (Sumitomo).

The application alleges that Sumitomo was behind the release of the newspaper articles, which contained false statements about Axiom KB (a joint venture between landowners and Axiom Mining).

IT experts tracing the WORD document of the two articles as stated in Axiom’s Lawyer Sworn Statement Mr Michael Pitakaka paragraph 32 found that the properties of the two articles were identified as “smmsStaff”.

Interestingly, Sumitomo have admitted that these statements were sent by one of its long term employees and that this person wrote the contentious articles on a computer owned by Sumitomo.

Sumitomo have also admitted their long term employee at the time also created email accounts via Google Gmail system under false names in order to hide his identity.

Whilst Sumitomo admits to the use of its computers as well as the fact that its long term employee produced and distributed the articles, it says they did not know what its employee was doing and so denies it breached the injunction and was in contempt of court.

What interest me is the drama behind these two emails that carries the two articles.

Last year 2016, the High Court issued a subpoena to Google Inc in the USA to retrieve the data from the two email accounts used for the distribution of the newspaper articles. Google Inc collected the data and it is now sitting with the High Court.

Report alleged that Sumitomo have made an application to the High Court to prevent anyone opening the data file sent by Google Inc.

This has raised questions with some involved in the situation because if this joint venture company of the Japanese Government and Sumitomo denies it is in contempt of court, why then do they not want the email account data file opened. Some have questioned they may have something to hide.

What further concerns me as a journalist is how this foreign company or their employee thinks they can fraudulently send email to our national newspapers.

Do they think our government or the people are not smart enough to understand such tactics?

Reading the original High Court judgment of 2014 when Sumitomo Company took our government and others to court over the Isabel nickel project, the High Court found that Sumitomo’s management was “dishonest” and “dishonourable”.

It also stated that top official within the company had “No respect towards Solomon Islanders” and he “was dishonest in his dealings with the landowners and the (Solomons) government.”

There was an appeal from this High Court judgment but the findings of dishonest and dishonourable conduct were not over turned.

Now the last throw of a dice will be on Monday March 20 (next week) as this contempt of Court hearing and the issue of opening the data file from the two Google emails account will be presented before the court.

When Axiom KB CEO was asked, he said “Axiom KB represents the joint interests of Isabel landowners and Axiom Mining. We do not condone any person or company who intentionally breaches against our interests.’

“We will protect the integrity the company and we are focussed on sustainable mining in Isabel Province. We will not hesitate to take legal action against those in breach of this country’s laws against our interest,” he said.

Former Attorney General Mr Gabriel Suri and prominent QC Mr Francis Douglas will appear in court on Monday representing Axiom KB.

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